Fashionable little Crossovers are all the rage at present. June Neary looks at Vauxhall's entrant in this market, the Mokka X
Will It Suit Me?
Small Crossovers should be fun and fashionable but that doesn't mean they can't also be versatile, capable and practical too. Like Vauxhall's little Mokka X? Perhaps. Here's the new face of this changing brand and it's one you might very well find yourself growing to like. I thought I'd try it.
With the Mokka X, the designers have tried to bring buyers the manoeuvrability of a little Nissan Juke with a lot of the space of the family-sized Nissan Qashqai. If you don't think they've pulled it off and need something bigger, then your Vauxhall sales person will direct you towards the slightly larger Crossland X model on the other side of the showroom. For me though, the Mokka X's sizing is about right. It certainly felt nippy and easy to park and my passengers weren't too squashed in the back.
In terms of aesthetics, for this car, British designer Mark Adams and his team tried to create a bolder look. This means a wing-shaped horizontal front grille and the dominant, sharp double-wing signature of the LED daytime running lights. At the rear is another double wing signature highlighted in the tail lamps, with LED technology an option. Vibrant new colours such as 'Amber Orange' and 'Lava Red' are also available. On the inside, the Mokka X has a completely new dashboard inspired by the latest Astra. I liked it.
In the back, the rear seats benefit from wide opening doors that simplify the fitment of a child seat, though that sharply rising waistline might restrict the view out for smaller occupants. As for luggage room, well, there's no high boot lip to negotiate and beyond it lies 356-litres of carriage space - about 30% more than you'd get in a Nissan Juke.
Behind the Wheel
And on the road? Wel no, it isn't as sharp and wieldy as a rival Nissan Juke, nor does it have the 'big SUV' polish of a comparable Skoda Yeti, but a pleasing compromise between the two should please most potential buyers. Under the bonnet, there are three main engine options, the most affordable, as ever, being the least desirable of the trio, the 2WD-only 115PS petrol 1.6-litre variant which, with only 155Nm of torque, needs to be rowed along a little with the gear lever - a stick that only offers you five speeds.
A better bet for petrol people is the Mokka X I tried, the 140PS 1.4-litre turbo now also available with 152PS if you go for a top-spec AWD model with auto transmission. The most practical engine choice though is the one most buyers will probably select, the 130PS 1.7-litre CDTi diesel capable of a top speed of around 116mph and rest to sixty in around 10s. You get all the main mechanical choices with this unit - so you can specify your car with 6-speed manual or automatic transmission and with or without 4WD. Perhaps more importantly, you get a lot more pulling power - 300Nm in all. Every Mokka is theoretically capable of towing a braked trailer of up to 1200kg in weight, but this diesel variant is the only one that'll really take such a task in its stride.
If that's the kind of thing you're going to be doing regularly, then you'll want to specify the AWD system, one of those fully adaptive set-ups that reacts to the surface you're driving over. So there are no knobs and levers: just a set of sensors that constantly monitor things like your steering angle, the wheel speeds, the throttle pedal position and the engine revs. Based on all this data, the electronic torque transfer device that controls the whole set-up will always know when extra traction is required, at which point it will automatically and seamlessly send up to 50% of the engine's torque from the front to the rear axle.
Value For Money
So, this Mokka X is a small, trendily-styled five-door little SUV/Crossover isn't it? Well yes. So it'll be priced directly against the other car we tend of think of in this market sector, Nissan's Juke, won't it? Well, no. Vauxhall points out - correctly - that their car is a significantly larger thing - hence the price span for the range that lies in the £17,500 to £27,000 bracket. To put that into perspective for you, that means you'll be probably be paying a price premium of around £3,000 for this Mokka X over an equivalent Juke. You'll need around £20,000 for the least expensive AWD Mokka X model.
As well as the extra space, you get more kit than you would on that Nissan. There's a choice of four trim levels, 'Active', 'Design Nav', Elite' and 'Elite Nav'. Standard equipment on the mid-range 'Design Nav' models most will choose is impressive and includes 18" alloy wheels on most models, plus LED daytime running lights, front fog lights and silver roof rails on the outside. Inside the cabin, drivers will benefit from an 8-inch touch screen with Vauxhall's IntelliLink Infotainment system, as well as the innovative OnStar personal connectivity and service assistant. 'Elite Nav' is the top-of-the-range trim and adds a full leather interior, heated front seats and steering wheel, plus tinted rear windows.
Could I Live With One?
Yes. I can see why people like cars of this kind. They're fashionable, practical and easy to get to grips with. You get a high seating position and a big boot. Plus the Mokka X is well equipped, affordable to run and, in 4x4 form, seasonally capable too. A car with an appeal that builds as your interest in it grows. It's the kind of car Vauxhall needs to make.